Post ideas for engaging students in exploring the relationships between cultural products, practices, and perspectives here.

Guiding Questions

  • What is culture?
  • Why is it important to embed culture in second language lessons?
  • How might teachers design opportunities for students to experience and explore culture in meaningful ways that develop students' proficiency in Spanish? Annenberg - El triángulo cultural
  • How might teachers guard against reinforcing stereotypes and prejudices when teaching culture?
  • How might teachers assist students in recognizing the diversity that exists within the target culture (i.e., avoid overgeneralizations)?


  • Activate Prior Knowledge & Experiences -Build on what students already know about their own culture to help them understand cultural ideas and practices that are new to them. Start locally and then build (i.e., self, families, communities, nations). Teach them that they have a culture (i.e., how would they respond to the idea of eating chicken soup on Thanksgiving?)
  • Allow the Culture to Speak for Itself -
    • Interaction/Participation - Provide students with multiple opportunities to interact with the target culture (through exposure to culturally authentic artifacts and materials, native speakers, opportunities to view and participate in culturally authentic practices, community events, etc.).
    • Evaluation - Assist students in evaluating the accuracy, authenticity, authority, credibility, and coverage of the cultural information they encounter.
    • Interpretation -Teach students to generate a variety of alternative hypotheses about the meaning of the cultural information they encounter and to base their final interpretations on sound reasoning and evidence (as opposed to emotional reactions or hearsay).
  • Avoid Stereotypes- Purposefully provide counterexamples to stereotypes and over-generalizations. Try to avoid absolutes (i.e. "All French people . . . ."), "othering" (objectifying the other culture or separating "US" from "THEM," often with the intent to criticize or pass value judgments), "exoticizing" (i.e., emphasizing only what grabs attention or will be perceived as strange or weird by students), "trivializing" (i.e., presenting only what is quaint or silly) or "political bias." You can "type" without "stereotyping."
  • Compare, Don't Just Contrast- Present both similarities and differences between the target culture and the dominant culture of your students (i.e., refrain from "othering" the target culture by emphasizing solely the differences).
  • Critically Evaluate Texts - Consider the cultural content (or lack thereof) embedded in the texts you choose to use
  • Elicit & Challenge Incomplete or Mistaken Information- Uncover students' mental models about culture by giving them opportunities to talk about their own culture. Address their misconceptions respectfully. Offer students multiple examples/representations of the phenomena under study so they can see the diversity that exists within the target culture. Be sure to address both "big C and little c" culture.
  • Embed Culture in EVERY Activity
  • Frame the Culture Positively - Encourage students to avoid value judgments (i.e., "different," not "better," "worse," "stupid," or "weird"). Speak about the culture as though a native speaker were standing in the room--honestly, openly, but respectfully.
  • Highlight Connections & Relationships - Focus on the relationships between products, practices, and perspectives in the target culture rather than considering each one separately and in isolation.
  • "Make the Familiar Strange" - Encourage students to examine their own culture from the perspective of an "outsider."
  • "Normalize" the Target Culture - Use culturally authentic images and materials on a regular basis. Try not to "frame" or "teach" the culture as something that needs to be separated or "pulled out" each time (from Deanna Mihalyi)
  • Prioritize Perspectives- Encourage students to examine how the beliefs, values, historical events, and physical conditions of the culture influence the logic behind what and how people do things.

See Culture Connection for culturally authentic materials in Spanish

General Cultural Resources

Post high quality texts in Spanish/Portuguese that could serve as the foundation for a lesson or project here.

ActualidadesLogo.jpg - Blog by Zachary Jones with links to materials in Spanish that reflect popular culture

AdsOfTheWorldLogo.jpg - Links to advertisements from around the world

AlienigenasNaAmericaLogo.png - A Ning community that contains links to a blog and podcasts re: Brazilians living in the U.S.

BLAALogo.jpg - Extensive library of digital texts (including children's literature and museums) from Colombia

Broadcast Live - A collection of links to newspapers, radio, and TV from countries around the world. You can filter them by country, language, topic, or type of media


Culturally Authentic Pictorial Lexicon - A database of culturally authentic Creative Commons images, organized by language and topic - chericem1 chericem1

Culture-based websites in Spanish (from Glencoe)

DotSubLogo.jpg - Searchable collection of videos in hundreds of languages from around the world. Choose the 100% option in order to get a subtitled version of the video. You can also select the "country" tab to find videos from a specific country.

FullTextsOnlineSpanishLogo.jpg- Very nice collection of Spanish & Latin American literature (navigation on the left)

GlossLogo.jpg - Searchable database of language maintenance/proficiency development lessons (reading and listening) in a wide variety of languages. Allows you to limit the search to video-based lessons. Click on the individual links to launch the lesson modules

InfografiasEnCastellanoLogo.JPG - A site containing a host of infographics on topics like health and social issues

InternationalChildrensDigitalLibraryLogo.gif- Children's picture books online - search for your language

Juvenile Books in Spanish (at the Harold B. Lee Library) - Lists of the children's picture books currently available for check-out from the collection (organized by year of publication)

KennedyCenterLogo.gif - Check out CDs of music, content materials, culture kits, flags, and/or maps from the Outreach Resource Library at BYU's Kennedy Center for free. The Center can also help you schedule free presentations for your classroom regarding specific countries. You may also wish to explore their CultureGuides--conuntry-specific teaching units for both elementary and secondary classes

LanicLogo.jpg - Latin American Network Information Center - Extensive list of texts in Spanish & Portuguese (organized by country)

Legends&FolktalesLogo.jpg- Interactive map with legends and folktales from around the world--many available in different languages

NetTVDBLogo.jpg - Over 1,000 TV stations, organized by countries from around the world (available as streaming video)

OpenCultureLogo.jpg- List of audio courses and podcasts in a variety of languages, including Spanish & Portuguese - Create customizable playlists of music that you can screen (and post on a wiki or a website) and that students can listen to and control in a pop-out player

Quino - Site in Argentina containing Quino comics & Mafalda videos

RealiaProjectLogo.jpg- Searchable database with links to faculty-reviewed, culturally authentic images, media, and materials from multiple countries

Resources for Student Learning: Finding, Evaluating, & Using Culturally Authentic Materials - Part 1 - This electronic newsletter from the National K-12 Foreign Language Resource Center will connect you to a wide variety of culturally authentic materials, will assist you in evaluating them for use in your classes, and will provide you with links to examples for ways they can be used to support learning in a variety of languages - chericem1 chericem1

Resources for Student Learning: Finding, Evaluating, & Using Culturally Authentic Materials - Part 2 - This electronic newsletter from the National K-12 Foreign Language Resource Center focuses on practical ways to use the culturally authentic materials and resources that you find to better support language learning - chericem1 chericem1

School for Scandal - This interesting article from the Urban Legends Reference Pages is useful for considering issues related to teaching about culturally authentic practices may be perceived from multiple perspectives

SpanishLanguage&CultureLogo.gif - Excellent grammar practice activities based on culturally authentic multimedia materials

Teaching Foreign Languages Video Library - Videos of lessons taught entirely in different target languages, organized by topic - most of them are grounded in culture

Teaching Foreign Languages Video Organizer - Videos of lessons taught entirely in different target languages, organized by grade level, performance level, National Standards, and teaching strategies.

UniversityLibrariesAlbanyLogo.gif - Extensive list of resources for Spanish literature and linguistics

VoiceOfTheShuttleLogo.gif - Links to sites related to literature in Spanish & Portuguese

YouTubeLogo.jpg..EDU - Search for educational videos in Spanish

Culturally Authentic Realia - Links to several websites that may be useful

Culture-related Lesson Plans & Materials










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